“There,” he said pointing forcefully at the map.
“That’s the portal to God’s Kingdom.”
The words hung perfectly intact at the forefront of my memory as I peered out into the vast, ceaseless arctic.
I began to question why I had been foolish enough to brave this journey.
“A Quest to Meet God,” the commander confidently divulged.
But as I peered out over the bow at the ceaseless ice, a profound and unsettling pain stirred inside me…
…what was I thinking!? I wondered.
We did indeed reach the destination the commander spoke of, but all we found was more bone-chilling silence and the same icy, desolate landscape that taunted us with its seething and insatiable hunger for our ship.
No creatures… No life… And certainly no God…
Months out at sea, enduring bitter cold and never-ending days of darkness — I must’ve been mad to have accepted this quest!
A shiver of despair, not cold, ran down my body and settled deep in my stomach.
The speed of my dreams had come to a halt as the ship slowly trudged through the shards and slush of the Icy Northern Sea.
I began to grow concerned at the increasing difficulty of the return trip.
Our keel sliced ferociously through the heart of the freezing ocean.
“Captain!” I heard a desperate voice call out.
As I turned around I saw a man consumed by terror, panic flashing wildly across his face.
“Captain, we must stop the ship at once. The cracks in the ice are growing fewer and further between! We won’t make it.”
“Well surely we won’t make it if we stop. We’ve depleted our supplies and we still have several days of travel left.”
“I hate to say this, comrade, but we must keep going. It is our only chance of survival.”
“We must endure, comrade.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him…but today we were to be forever imprisoned in this icy hell.
And as I faced imminent death, I began to ponder my life.
It’s strange…but I could only really remember the good parts. When I looked back, all I really saw was beauty…
Distant cries and moans of deprivation filled my ears like a chorus of suffering and desperation.
I gathered my men to bow our heads.
The twelve of us stood silently in a circle as the ship’s rumbling began to intensify as it plunged through the relentless ice.
Sounds of creaking turned to cracking…and then to crushing and crashing.
Our legs began shaking out from under us as I saw the final tear fall from my comrade’s eye.
“It was a pleasure sailing with you, sir.”
Just then the ship came to a screeching halt, throwing the entire crew through the rails of the ship an onto a frozen ground eager to consume our souls and entomb our lifeless bodies.
And as I lay there paralyzed, looking up at the silent, wintery sky, I relaxed into the peace of mind knowing that I no longer felt the need to make it to the end…the end was coming to me.
I closed my eyes for what I thought was the final time when I heard a roar so fierce and mighty that it shook my body back into motion.
And as I sat up I saw one of my comrades pulling another up off the ice, screaming, “Come on! It’s not over yet, come on! Get up!”
Two other men had already begun pulling the life boats off of the ship.
We only had necessities as bare as the skin, but we would try to endure…
…as sure as the ice was frozen we were determined to push forth.
Let it be the end…this time, ALIVE!
All twelve men had survived the crash and began to scatter frantically, lacking any unified plan.
“Free the ship with ax and pick!”
“Loot the ship with quick and wit!”
“Abandon ship, abandon ship!”
What the ice shall take, the ice shall keep!
“Men, the ship is sinking…it’s no use. Grab the life boats and gather any supplies you can…QUICKLY!”
SOUTH! We run to save our lives!
Hauling the lifeboats over the frozen sea, we no longer knew what “cold” was.
The crew climbed relentlessly over the treacherous, icy bergs and across the cracked landscape for over fifty miles, stopping however briefly to rest and dream of food we didn’t have.
Finally, the ice began to thin.
A fire of morale blazed in our hearts as we experienced hope we didn’t know we had.
“Throw in the lifeboats!”
All twelve of us maneuvered two lifeboats across the horizon with nothing but our paddles slicing through the unforgiving waters.
The hours dragged on, our bodies weary and ready to submit to the slushy waters.
Over and over we rowed, our muscles kept alive only by the endurance within.
Suddenly the frigid and unfriendly icy sea transformed into a picturesque masterpiece as a sight so divine emerged over the horizon!
“The Yelco!” one of the men exclaimed. “ROW! WITH HASTE!!”
By a stroke of coincidence and sheer majesty, the Yelco had spotted us!
The angel of life had come to our rescue. Navigational error had led them directly to us.
And as the crew boarded the Yelco, I couldn’t help but to be overcome by a faith more powerful than I had ever experienced before.
I began to reflect on everything that had happened:
The beauty of the life that flashed before my eyes…
The final tear that rolled down my comrade’s face…
The miracle of a crash that should have killed us all, yet took no one…
And the shimmering beauty — the Yelco — finding our crew against all odds…
One word came to mind:
The Quest to Meet God had been achieved.
The portal to His Kingdom was there the entire time…
…in our hearts.
Twelve comrades joined together on a common mission to find God.
And that we did.